Mac users who updated to macOS Catalina will see that there's a new folder named “Relocated Items” right there on the desktop. What's this folder and why is it there?

Apple recently released macOS Catalina, the latest macOS version for the Mac, iMac, MacBook and MacBook Pro. Aside from bringing in a slew of features that allows for maximum productivity, it also introduces a new format optimized for the flash storage used in recent Mac models. This format is called the new Apple File System (APFS).

MacRumors explained that APFS-formatted disks make use of “containers” that can house multiple file systems or “volumes.” The containers allow each volume to share storage space as needed.

macOS Catalina is installed on a dedicated read-only volume called “Macintosh HD.” A user's files and data, on the other hand, are stored in a volume called “Macintosh HD – Data.” There's a purpose for why Catalina and the user's files are stored in two different volumes.

The two volumes are created during the macOS Catalina upgrade process. The idea behind this is that it's safer to store critical operating system files in a read-only disk. Additionally, users won't be able to store files, and alter them at a later time, in a read-only disk.

Another reason is because Catalina reviews each and every file a user has on his hard drive during the upgrade process. The files are checked for validity and authorization. Catalina also checks if they are in the correct location. File that can't be stored in the Macintosh HD – Data volume in a folder equivalent to their original location before the Catalina upgrade will be stored in the Relocated Items folder.

Simply put, the Relocated Items folder houses older files and data that macOS Catalina can't find a use for. These files may include configuration files users created for an older macOS installation; and files that include data used for third-party apps that Catalina doesn't have support for. The Relocated Items folder will also include a PDF document providing details about these files.

What to do with the folder?

The Relocated Items folder seen in the desktop is nothing but a shortcut that leads to the actual folder stored somewhere. Those who think that it's an eyesore need not worry about deleting it. Those who want to delete the actual folder, on the other hand, can find it in /Users/Shared/Relocated Items. Deleting it won't affect Catalina's critical operating system files.

Before deleting it, however, it will be good to check its contents first. Some content might prove useful once third-party developers update their respective apps.